H1Z1: Servers fail to survive launch day



By Graphic Designer

Sony Online Entertainment, creators of the EverQuest and PlanetSide games, released its newest title, H1Z1, on Steam for Early Access play January 15.

H1Z1 will be a free-to-play game after early access. Launch day went quite unexpected, showing major server malfunctions inhibiting players’ exploration in this zombie survival sandbox game. Trust me, it hurt a lot after having to think of a username and then not be able to enter the game. Nothing seems worse for a game developer than to see a stream on Twitch.tv of 49,000 people watching the streamer get malfunction error “G99” try, after try, after try. These problems have surely hindered the large marketing campaign SOE is currently pushing featuring many ads promoting streamers “surviving” in the game. It seems SOE needs to focus more on its servers surviving the demand it has bolstered for the game. A comforting tweet from John Smedley, the President of SOE, says, “thanks for your patience. Believe me we won’t sleep till this is fixed.”

H1Z1 gameplay is shaped around the unknown circumstances that go down when you see another player. This moment of fight or flight outweighs any view you may have of zombies, so don’t dismiss it just because it has zombies. You become overwhelmed with emotion, screaming, questioning yourself and doubting the capability of slicing up the invader that is trying to loot the same camp as you. You will have an advantage when scouting out possible loot locations if you have the upper level items such as a rifle equipped with a long scope. For all the slow ones like me, I don’t suggest open valleys as a means for trekking.

There are extensive abandoned camps and towns set up to hold random spawns of loot items. I became extremely OCD going through each cabinet, barrel and dresser, and then made sure I didn’t miss anything in the campers or cars in the back. But be careful, as these are the places everyone navigates to. There is a high probability that a player may run into a horde of zombies or another person searching for the same luck in loot. Bandages are a good item to have when wandering into these camps, and wolves or a spare zombie may be lurking behind the next wall.

Players start out the game by looking for water and food to maintain the Hydration and Energy bars above zero percent. Look for blackberries in the shrubs for an easy food item. You can keep your energy up if you stockpiled enough. Naturally, traveling increases your hunger, but be aware that items in your bags will amass a weight that will speed up the hunger process.

Nothing is more exciting than your first Player vs. Player win, but your adrenaline really kicks in when you go to check out what the player had and discover a treasure trove of goods, and you immediately start rushing to stuff everything into your inventory. In this moment of tunnel vision, don’t forget that he may have had friends with him.

The art of H1Z1 is of a game in Alpha stage of development. Right now it is satisfactory but has massive potential for more. There are questionable aspects that I expect to be cleared up environment-wise, such as the major expanses of water only being knee-deep, but I can tell that SOE has learned from other survival games in recent years. I guess the company is just trying to evade the implementation of swimming.

H1Z1 has definitely impressed me with some basic concerns that have stemmed from other survival games, such as door codes on your crafted shelters that would allow friends to enter. This was one of the first major updates to a similar game, Rust, several months after its Alpha release.

A buzzing concern of players, pre-release of H1Z1 was the in-game monetization efforts of SOE. Articles and posts were written informing that H1Z1 would not be a pay-to-win game.

“We are not interested in selling weapons,” John Smedley wrote on Reddit in April 2014. “We are not selling power.”

But to the public’s surprise on launch day, contained in airdrops that anyone can pay to have dropped above their head, are guns and other items. The community is outraged, and Steam and Smedley are offering refunds for purchases of the game if you find airdrops to be a problem. Much of the community is naming Smedley a liar, posting quotes and videos showing the contrast of previous months’ assurance that H1Z1 would not be pay-to-win.

I don’t recommend buying H1Z1 in early access, as there is much to be done to it before it goes to free-to-play. In most cases you get lucky with a game purchase being more than satisfactory in early access then escalating to a high price on full release, but H1Z1 is quite the opposite. Check back in on this game in a couple months, or wait until full release.